River Yamuna springs back to life in Mathura, thanks to the green crusader

yamuna River
One reason behind the Yamuna looking less polluted this year is the lockdown that shut many units. Ram Ghat before (inset) and after the cleaning drive by Yamuna Mission. Image courtesy: IANS
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Mathura: If the Yamuna and its banks look cleaner and the stream full of water, here, the credit goes to the Yamuna Mission, launched in 2015 by a local businessman Pradeep Bansal.

For more than a month, several excavators, tractors and workers scooped riverbed and de-silted a long patch along the main ghats (flight of steps leading down to the river) opposite the Dwarkadheesh temple. Even during the lockdown, work continued.

In Mathura, the river looks cleaner and the ghats full of water after many years. Due to the Gokul Barrage, there is enough water in the river all the way to Vrindavan.

One reason behind the Yamuna looking less polluted this year is the lockdown that shut many units. The effluents flow was minimum as industrial pollutants didn't enter the river in the upstream cities, like Delhi, Faridabad and Palwal.

After the first phase of 'unlock', the volume of pollutants has increased, causing foam formation at Gokulsthan in the past four months. "But start of the rainy season could again make a difference. The rise in water flow could dilute pollutants," Jagan Nath Poddar, an activist, said.

The Yamuna Mission has also contributed to greening of river banks, wasteland, land-fills, diversion of drains, and treatment and recycling of sewage before its release into the river.

"In less than five years, the Yamuna Mission has started yielding results. Drains that opened into the river have been diverted in a systematic manner, and the waste water is filtered and recycled to irrigate the area," said Rashmi Sharma, project director.

Mathura' longest Masani Nala (drain) has been diverted and turned into a 5 km-long canal along the river. Water is channeled into trenches and slush removed periodically to ensure that the water remains safe.

All solids, including polythene and plastics, are sieved out. Solid waste is removed with the help of machines. Then only the water is allowed to flow into the canal.

Water gets filtered further as the canal passes over sandy land. Half the water seeps into earth, a good percentage is absorbed by trees along the way, and a fairly large quantity gets evaporated bringing temperature down. Hardly any water is left at the end of canal.

"We are getting support from several groups and activists. From Mathura, we are proceeding towards Vrindavan. Most drains on the way have been diverted and prevented from discharging into the river Yamuna. We are encouraging people to visit our Tulsi Van and plant saplings," said Bansal.

The Yamuna Mission has helped in greening several patches on the Goverdhan Parikrama Marg. It has saved/resurrected several holy ponds. Dozens of volunteers clean the Marg and shift garbage to the land-fill sites.

There has been no pilgrims to the Sri Krishna land this year due to Covid-19. But the greening work has continued without interruption.

Whenever the devotees return, they would find a changed ambience in Mathura and Vrindavan, said Bansal.

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